Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Here's our new henhouse that J built:

And, introducing the new chicks. The first four are the Easter Egger mix:
This is Lucky. She's the one I'm most worried about, and the one most likely to die, I think.

This is Spike. We couldn't really come up with a better name, so if you have an idea, please comment.

This is Blondie, and K's favorite.

This is Mabelline, but we'll call her Mabel. She's so named because it looks like she's wearing eyeliner.

Lastly, this is Fancy. She is the Silver Laced Wyandotte.

More chicks! Or, Impulse buy of chickens!

Seriously, I'm starting to feel obsessed with these chickens.

Two nights ago, we finished our hen house, and sent Sky, Sunkist and Clover out. We hooked a heat light up to the hen house on a timer, so they'll stay warm enough at night. They seem to be thrilled with the arrangement. Given that they could jump out of the tote, and we thought it was time.I took the kids to the feed store to buy more chicken feed today (boy, these chicks are sure eating a lot nowadays!). The littles wanted to look at the baby chicks, and I was mildly curious to see if they had any of the breeds I was contemplating. I want a total of 4 hens when it's all said and done. I wanted an Americauna and a Copper Maran, and then I was thinking about something black and white.

As we walked in, the store got a delivery of 2 day old chicks! We got to watch the employee count all the chicks (because counting chicks AFTER they hatch is hunky dory), and then help them get their first drink. They had a shipment of Americaunas. They also had some 3 day old Silver Laced Wyandottes. That makes for a beautiful hen, and it lays brown eggs. Here's what an adult Silver Laced Wyandotte looks like: (thanks to THIS blog for the picture)

I then wanted to get an Americauna, since they lay blue or green eggs, which sounds totally cool. The store had a minimum chick order of 5, so I bought four Americaunas, and one of the Silver Laced.The four chickens huddled closely are the Americaunas, and the one in the top right corner is the the Silver Laced Wyandotte.

I figure we'll end up selling three of the Americaunas, assuming all live. They are only two days old, and went straight from shipping container to our purchase package. They must be pretty shocked right now. They seem to be fine, but you just never know.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm a Cleaning Boy!

Today we made an emergency trip to Costco for diapers. Z has no interest in potty training.

While there, we saw a "portable hydration system" for $20. It was the same brand/style as our other pack. We love those packs, and our only complaint is while it does have a 80 oz bladder, that's not enough for our entire family. So, we decided to buy a second pack.

Z has been wearing it all over the house today, so excited to have his own "pack pack". He noticed the straw, and kept trying to drink from it. I gave in and put some water in it for him, and he played happily for a couple hours.

J just called me upstairs, and I could tell by the tone of his voice I wasn't going to like what he had to say. The little kids, on their play camping trip, took apart the pack and spilled the water all over the floor in his room. Trying to hide the evidence, Z had taken some of his clothes out of the dresser, and they were mopping up the water with that. When J discovered them, he gave them each a towel.

This is the point where I came in. I could tell the kids were scared what my reaction was going to be, and Z worked even harder, telling me, "We're cleaning boys!"

It's impossible to be mad when a 3 year old says that, and is busily working. It's only water. It was too cute.

I was a little surprised that S didn't take issue with being called a boy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Earthquake in Japan vs. Earthquake in Utah

We had a minor earthquake in Utah yesterday. It was 4.9 at the epicenter, and it was felt as far south as Utah county. In our neck of the woods, we were outside playing when it happened. I was the only person who noticed. I thought one of the kids was swinging on my chair, but then realized none of them were right by me. I then decided I was just crazy. A couple minutes later, a neighbor came out and asked if we'd felt it.

It was the big story on the news last night, devoting several minutes to the story, even though nobody was injured, and a couple of broken pictures were the extent of the damage, and that was miles and miles from Salt Lake.

So, compare that to Japan. When we had first moved to Japan, we quickly discovered that earthquakes happen alllllll the time. It's the most seismically active area in the world. Our first quake was when we were driving to a store to buy home supplies for our new apartment. At a stop light, we noticed the car was swaying. We thought the kids were being wild and making the car sway. We turned around to yell at them, but they were sitting there in a jet lagged glaze. We looked ahead and realized the car ahead of us was also moving. 20 or so minutes later, we were at Joyful Honda (I know, I still giggle when I think of the name), and things started rattling around. We froze, and looked around in shock. To our amazement, people continued shopping like absolutely nothing happened. That quake was significantly bigger than anything I've ever felt in Utah, so to see people have no reaction was quite the trip for me. It didn't even make the local news.

We got a lot more casual about earthquakes while living there, though never as laissez faire as the natives were.

The worst earthquake we had was actually pretty scary for us. It was very, very early in the morning, like around 4am. We were on the 5th floor of an apartment building, so we were swaying pretty good. All of our pictures fell off the walls, and broke everywhere. K got her fire and earthquake drills mixed up, and ran out of the apartment. Luckily I found her almost immediately. M was totally freaked out, and frozen on his bunk bed. We spent the rest of the night in our bed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

RIP Pinky

Saturday morning, I checked on the chicks before I left to do my volunteer time at the gym daycare. They were doing great, looking cute. I had to leave Z home with daddy because he has a cold, and no sick kids are allowed at the gym.

While S and I were gone, J was out washing and detailing our cars (I LOVE that man!). Z was in and out of the house.

Soon after I got home, M noticed that Pinky was laying on the ground in their little box. Sure enough, she had died, but was still warm. We buried her in the yard, and everyone was really sad. S especially was devastated because Pinky was "her" chick.

Considering how healthy Pinky was, I am wondering if possibly Z had something to do with her death (I'm trying desperately not to make any "fowl play" jokes, since a beloved pet has died, but it's difficult!). He loves the chicks, and is always asking to hold them. I can't say that he wouldn't try to hold the chicks on his own if he wasn't properly supervised.

Once the remaining 3 are grown, we'll get rid of any roosters (I'm still reasonably certain that Sky and Sunkist are male), and then buy enough full grown hens so that we have a total of four chickens.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sexing Chicks?

So I'm dying to know the gender on our chicks. I'm not about to do that poop thing I saw on Dirty Jobs.
Tonight, we went to the ranch supply store to buy chicken feed and chicken water dispensers. I feel like it'll make my life easier.
We met a woman there who works there in the evenings, and works on a chicken farm in the mornings. She told us how to sex a chick by looking at the wings. She said that if the wings go in a smooth, almost even pattern, they are pullets (female chickens who haven't reached maturity and laid eggs yet). If they have a couple feathers that are way longer, they are cockerels (roosters that haven't hit maturity yet).
I'm not quite going to believe it, since researching this has me believing that it's extremely difficult to tell gender for a couple months. That seems pretty obvious and easy to me.
For your entertainment, I took pictures of each of the chicken's wings tonight. My gut feeling before taking these pictures was that Sky (the blue one) and Sunkist (the orange one) were male because they seemed significantly bigger and their combs seemed more pronounced. The chicken lady's methods confirmed this.
Here is Sky's wingHere is Sunkist's wing:

The two I thought were pullets were Pinky and Clover. They both seem smaller to me.

This is Pinky
This is Clover

Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? I'll be interested to see if it turns out to be true or not.

As you can see, they are growing like crazy. They're eating and drinking more and more.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Are you out of your everloving mind?!

That is the phrase that I have repeated to myself several times over the past 24 or so hours.

J and the kids have been desperate to go camping. I've put them off because I remembered our last spring camping trip as being really cold. But, with spring break this week, I let them talk me into it.

We decided to go to Camperworld's Hot Springs resort because they have a swimming pool fed by hot springs. No chemicals in the water, and it changes itself out frequently, so it's the cleanest swimming pool you'll ever be in. Not only that, but it's really warm in the pool, so a lot of fun to swim in when it's cold outside.

Two days ago, though, it began to snow. Hard. It was one of the bigger snowstorms we had over the winter. I had my doubts about camping, but everyone still wanted to try, so the trip was still on.
Then, we remembered the chicks we got for Easter. Since they're still little, they need a lot of food and water, and we weren't sure how they'd do at home for 24 hours. So, what the heck. Let's bring the chickens! We transported them in the truck in an Easter bucket.
We get to the resort, and check in at the front desk. They ask the usual questions, and it's business as usual. Then, they ask if we brought any pets. Oh dear. Is there any way to answer this without looking like a total lunatic? Nope.

Me: "Um, we brought 4 chickens"


Me: "Well, you see, they're only a couple weeks old, and need to be fed so frequently that we didn't think they could be left alone overnight"

Her: "..."

Really, what do you say?

Maybe this means that my reputation at Camperworld will change from "troublemaker" to "Crazy Chicken Lady". Is it bad that I think that would be an improvement?

We get camp set up, chickens go to their heated tote in the bath tub. I take the kids down to the pool to swim while J tosses the tinfoil dinners on the fire to cook.

The water was definitely warm, but not as warm as I remember it being. After an hour, Z and I are shivering, so we drag the other kids out, kicking and screaming.

That night, I discovered (yet another) reason that most people don't bring chicks camping. They would not shut up!!! peep peep peep peep peep peep peep all night long.

After a while, I realize that it IS awfully cold in the trailer. I look at the thermometer, and it's 44 degrees. Furnace isn't working. We realize it's a battery issue, so we change batteries. An hour later, their peeping wakes me up again. This time, we're out of gas. Poor J goes out and switches tanks. Z wakes up, cold. I tuck him in again, and he's out like a light.

The chickens were still noisy, but quiet enough that I can sleep.

The next morning, we look down over the hot springs, and loved the view:

As soon as we finished breakfast, the whole family went down to the pool. The day was much calmer. It was colder, but no wind. The water was much warmer, and we had a blast swimming for a couple hours.

We then packed up, and headed home, where we've been spring cleaning our trailer.

Monday, April 5, 2010


We had a really great Easter. As tradition dictates, we went to my grandmother's for a nice lunch and Easter Egg hunt. We'd thought about hosting this year, because let's face it. Our back yard would make for an awesome easter egg hunt. But, my grandma wanted to continue tradition, and it's much easier to be a guest than a host. Instead of planning and carrying out the entire meal, I was in charge of drinks. I made a nice punch.
Recipe can be found HERE. I reduced the sugar called for to 1.5 cups, and I think I could reduce it even more and have it be good.

The really exciting part of Easter this year was a present we got for the kids. My poor, long suffering husband was forced to drive to Lehi (which is about 45 minutes south of his work, and well over an hour south of us) to pick them up. He picked them up on Tuesday, and dropped them off at my equally long suffering parents, who agreed to babysit them until Sunday. My mom was terrified that one (or more) would die before Easter came. All of her fears were for nothing, and my kids were pretty excited when they saw their gift:

These are White Leghorn chickens. This picture was taken on Tuesday, when they were 9 days old. They've grown quite a bit since then. A lot more of the adult white feathers have come in.

How do they get chickens in such vivid shades? Well, they dye them. They dye them before they are even hatched! I did some searching, and they get a syringe of dye, and put it in the egg about 11 days after it's laid. They then seal the hole with some paraffin, and hope for the best. As they grow up and lose their baby fluff, they will lose their color. As adults, you will never know they had such an unusual beginning.

Here's the chicks last night, at 13 days old.